Sunday, November 20, 2016

Roubaix to Brew: Big Elm Brewery Gravel Grinder

Today's ride was inspired by the True to Brew ride and the Captain Lawrence Singlespeed Century that I took part in last month.  The idea behind a Roubaix to Brew ride is to find a route less traveled with a brewery destination.  To help in the planning, I have created the second edition of my Gravel Road map called Roubaix to Brew.  This ride and those that follow are essentially a gravel grinder with a beer stop, however, the real accomplishment is to carry some sort substantive take away from the brewery, like a 4 or 6 pack of cans, a bomber or growler to the end of the ride.

Today's ride started in Copake Falls, which has a pretty good parking area for the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and the Depot Deli is right there in case you need something to eat or drink.  We started out with five riders: Jeff, Andy, Ralph, Paul and myself and we headed down to the end of the Rail Trail and then up this farm road which went through an orchard that I originally had on my gravel map but have taken it off because there are gates indicating private property.  

The first climb of the ride was Sunset Rock Road, a gravel road has an average 12% grade and a nasty switch back with a grade of 20%.  Once on top of the mountain we worked our way over to East Street and then headed down through the Catamount Pass.

Looking north from here you just make out East Mountain State Forest

That is the back side of the Butternut Ski Area

Which is wear I learned to ski and in Mt Washington, MA, is the home of Camp Hi-Rock, where I went when I was a kid.

On the way down Jeff got a flat

It must have happened when we were bombing down West Street.

When I originally planned this ride it was going the other direction but with the change it meant we had to kill an hour before the brewery opened so we headed down to Connecticut and followed the route between Washining and Washinee lakes.

Between the Lakes Road cuts through the middle of Twin Lakes

Lake Washinne was smooth as glass

From Between the Lakes we bombed down through Wildcat Hollow and then turned north on Housatonic River Road.  In the past, I have always ridden this south but this time we were riding the dirt road north.  Then we went down Rt 44 that turned onto Twin Lakes Road.  We followed that to Weatogue Road which continues into Massachusetts and becomes dirt.  Then we took Rannapo to Bull Hill (dirt) to Silver Street and straight to the brewery!

Brewery opened at noon and we got there at 11:50. We parted company with Jeff and Ralph who had other afternoon obligations so that just Paul, Andy and myself.

I ordered, from left to right:
413 Farmhouse Ale
God Save the Queen ESB
Gerry Dog Stout
Transformer IPL

Not much in the way of food except pretzels.  They did break out cheese, pretzels, chocolate and pepperoni for patrons to snack on.  I filled my half growler with the 413 Farmhouse Ale.

Paul and Andy

Myself and Paul

I brought electrical tape and sealed the growler shut because who knows what was going to happen on the remainder of the dirt roads that we had yet to ride.

Upon leaving the brewery we followed the original route back down to Connecticut and between the lakes again. 

View of Bear Mountain from Barnum Road

Ironically I hit a PR on the Between the Lakes segment, carrying 32 oz of beer.

Private driveway and the old Central New England Right of Way

Rt 44 was recently paved and it was:

Black Butter!

After a pit stop at the Sweet William Baker it was onwards and upwards to Mt Riga

With the setting sun the lower part was kind of chilly but once back in the sun it was really nice!

For the first time we encountered a gate blocking the road about a half mile from the state line.

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